Mes­sages are text best thing

NHS scheme gets seal of ap­proval

Rutherglen Reformer - - Intimations - Ian Bunt­ing

An in­no­va­tive NHS La­nark­shire text mes­sag­ing ser­vice run through­out Mon­k­lands has been hailed as a “mas­sive suc­cess”.

The health board’s ‘ Florence’ pro­gramme sees pa­tients aged 16 and over equipped and taught how to self-mon­i­tor de­tails such as weight and blood pres­sure.

The pa­tient then texts the de­tails to an au­to­mated sys­tem which has been pro­grammed by spe­cial­ist nurses with their spe­cific health de­tails.

A shin­ing ex­am­ple of the dif­fer­ence the ser­vice is mak­ing to peo­ple’s lives is jet-set­ting busi­ness­man Graham Mur­ray.

Graham was di­ag­nosed with heart fail­ure a year ago but has been able to con­tinue his global trav­els as part of an in­ter­na­tional IT trou­ble-shoot­ing op­er­a­tion serv­ing ma­jor clients in Europe, Amer­ica and Asia thanks to the text mes­sage sys­tem.

The 57-year-old said: “Life, be­tween fam­ily and work, is ex­tremely busy — and I love ev­ery as­pect of it.

“Last year, how­ever, while work­ing in Eng­land, I felt like I was com­ing down with heavy cold, with symp­toms in­clud­ing breath­ing dif­fi­culty.

“As the symp­toms wors­ened, and af­ter hos­pi­tal checks, it was dis­cov­ered that I had fluid on my lungs.

“The root cause was a nar­row­ing of the ar­ter­ies to the heart which meant it wasn’t pump­ing blood as ef­fec­tively as it should.

“I was di­ag­nosed as hav­ing heart fail­ure, but when I learned I wasn’t go­ing to die the next day I just wanted to crack on with things.

“Af­ter ini­tial hos­pi­tal treat­ment last year I was ad­vised I re­quired weekly checks, in­clud­ing blood pres­sure and weight.

“Florence was of­fered as an al­ter­na­tive, which is ob­vi­ously far more con­ducive to my work­ing life.

“I see the sys­tem as a safety blan­ket and an in­ter­na­tional life­line, all in one. I know it’s there and I can get on with my life.”

Florence sends pa­tients text mes­sage replies with ad­vice and in­for­ma­tion like med­i­ca­tion re­minders, all based on their latest read­ings.

Cru­cially, the sys­tem can iden­tify flare-ups at the ear­li­est stage and if any anom­alies are de­tected within the read­ings, like a rise or drop in blood pres­sure, an au­to­mated alert is sent to the pa­tient and spe­cial­ist nurse, al­low­ing them to re­spond to of­fer ad­vice or help by phone, text or med­i­cal as­sis­tance.

The tech-savvy scheme is part of the Euro­pean- wide ini­tia­tive Unit­ed4Health, which is geared to us­ing new tech­nol­ogy to im­prove healthcare and sees NHS La­nark­shire team up with key part­ners at North and South La­nark­shire Coun­cil.

Jan­ice He­witt, chief ac­count­able of­fi­cer for North La­nark­shire Health and So­cial Care, said: “This ini­tia­tive en­sures peo­ple get the right ad­vice and sup­port in the right place at the right time.

“Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy is in­creas­ingly be­ing used in ev­ery walk of life and this case demon­strates how we are har­ness­ing it to com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing re­sources.”

Morag Hearty, of NHS La­nark­shire’s Unit­ed4Health pro­gramme, added: “This is just one of a raft of sys­tems be­ing in­tro­duced to get pa­tients more in­volved in cus­tom de­signed, per­son­alised healthcare which can only in­crease in­de­pen­dent liv­ing.”

To find out more about the Florence sys­tem, email Morag on United4. HealthPro­ject@ la­nark­shire. scot. nhs.uk.

On his trav­els Graham dur­ing trip to Viet­nam

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